Over halfway through, Clemson's spring heats up with scrimmages

Spring Football Practice - David Beasley (l-r), Isaiah Battle & Cole Stoudt

Photo by Mark Crammer

Spring Football Practice - David Beasley (l-r), Isaiah Battle & Cole Stoudt

CLEMSON – Past the midpoint of spring practice, now, the fun begins – Monday’s session being the first of three scrimmages in the final stretch.

Name an offensive position – and it’s probably open. And there’s nobody more intrigued by how the final two weeks of the spring will unfold than fourth-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris.

“We’ve had a good eight days of practice,” Morris said Friday after wrapping for the weekend. “This being the first scrimmage being the first time in a game-like setting with the coaches off the field – It’ll be interesting to see.

“We’ll have a better understanding of where we are after Monday. Put these guys through a scrimmage or game-like setting it will be interesting to see. We have a lot of true freshmen on the field now that are getting quality reps. The game is moving awful fast for them but they’re catching on. I’ve been pleased with some of them. The rest of them need to come on, but they are showing improvement.”

All eyes are on the nation’s top incoming dual-threat quarterback, Deshaun Watson – competing two alongside Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly, in their fourth and third years in Morris’ system respectively.

Morris said all three will get a “fair assessment” sharing equal snaps with the first and second teams in the coming scrimmages. How has Watson earned that kind of respect?

“Just his performance on the field at this point,” said Morris. “It’s still a three-person race. I think all three are working extremely hard. All three of them have had their days. All three of them have had their not so good days. They have all had their ups and downs. We’ll have a better understanding after Monday. We may settle in with a guy the rest of the week after Monday.

“We’ll gauge it and judge. They are all competing hard and I’m proud of all three of them.”

As for the five protecting the lucky one or two in the group come August 30 in Athens, the competition is wide-ranging, and the answers are few.

“There’s a lot of variables,” Morris said. "Lots of variables. We’ve kind of narrowed down to that five in there. A lot of intangibles that go along with it. Moving guys around and trying to figure it out. A lot of time to go to that first ballgame.”

The Tigers’ OC has liked what he’s seen out of the mid-year freshman receivers: Demarre Kitt, Artavis Scott and Kyrin Priester. However, he is looking much, much more from a guy a year and plenty of early playing time in: sophomore Mike Williams.

“Mike struggled early on the spring – about the first five practices,” said Morris of the Lake Marion product, who caught three touchdowns. “I was very disappointed in his performance. I was expecting more out of him being a veteran guy. Over the last three practices he’s had a better week than he’s had the first two weeks. He’s still far from where he needs to be.”

On the other side, name a defensive position – and the competition among multiple vets will be heating up. Third-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables is keeping them on their toes.

“We know what they are capable of doing,” Venables said. “But will we do it again? We’ll see. I’m not assuming anything. We need to get better. Everybody across the board.

“You could go with every single player. We’ve done the evaluations. We stress the things they don’t do so well. We don’t talk about the things they do well. We get these other things corrected we have a to have a good defense. We have the experience and ability. We just have to put it all together and put the work in.”

Venables says there’s plenty encouraging on both sides in spring’s final stretch.

“So far it’s been really pretty good,” he said. “Like all spring, some days you’re at your best. Give and take on both sides. Excited about certain parts of the offense coming along and the challenges they are giving our defense.”

“We like putting those guys in stressful situations to see how they will respond.”

Follow Brandon Rink on Twitter @brink_aim and OrangeandWhite.com @orangeandwhite

© 2014 OrangeAndWhite.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 8

TigerNE writes:

The WR depth is enough to keep the competition high for Williams. And once Peake gets into full contact practice I expect he will show Morris what he's looking for.

But there is still a lot of reason to worry about the O line at this point. Good news is there is still plenty of time.

TigerFan95 writes:

10 of our 16 O-line are juniors or seniors yet we're still at a point that we don't have 5 dependable starters among them?

lhaselden writes:

I think we will have the best and deepest OL since Danny Ford and Hatfields day... did you miss where they said there were 9 or 10 guys in the mix most of them started or played significant snaps last year all except Crowder!

BrandonRink writes:

Re: o-line...

There's always a balance between some of the straight-er talk from coaches and some motivation for players. With how much they are moving guys in, out and around on the line I don't think Morris wants to ID who's standing out from the crowd yet. He's probably under-selling them a bit at this point, but that's something we really won't know until August.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Re: o-line...

There's always a balance between some of the straight-er talk from coaches and some motivation for players. With how much they are moving guys in, out and around on the line I don't think Morris wants to ID who's standing out from the crowd yet. He's probably under-selling them a bit at this point, but that's something we really won't know until August.

I hope you're right Brandon, but it seems like we've been hearing this same story every spring for years now, and when August comes around the answer has always been that our O-line is average at best. In the past I wrote it off to youth and inexperience, but with the amount of upperclassmen on our roster that excuse no longer applies. With the numbers we have, O-line should be the biggest strength and the most settled unit on our team right now, but instead I feel it's perhaps the biggest question mark, and only slightly behind QB.

TigerNE writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Re: o-line...

There's always a balance between some of the straight-er talk from coaches and some motivation for players. With how much they are moving guys in, out and around on the line I don't think Morris wants to ID who's standing out from the crowd yet. He's probably under-selling them a bit at this point, but that's something we really won't know until August.

It's certainly Morris' style to underplay how good he thinks someone is. Compared to Swinney who will talk up about 5 other players while giving complements to one. Sort of an "everybody is surprising us and great!"

But I don't think he's exaggerating that much. He more often than not expressed dissatisfaction with a number of guys last year, didn't he? It's just more a matter of not meeting his expectations. Or at least there weren't that many stand out performers most of the season. Some adequate efforts, but nothing stellar. At least that's how I read Morris' words.

And the fact that we aren't hearing that much about Region gives me some extra concern.

13tiger5 writes:

in response to TigerNE:

It's certainly Morris' style to underplay how good he thinks someone is. Compared to Swinney who will talk up about 5 other players while giving complements to one. Sort of an "everybody is surprising us and great!"

But I don't think he's exaggerating that much. He more often than not expressed dissatisfaction with a number of guys last year, didn't he? It's just more a matter of not meeting his expectations. Or at least there weren't that many stand out performers most of the season. Some adequate efforts, but nothing stellar. At least that's how I read Morris' words.

And the fact that we aren't hearing that much about Region gives me some extra concern.

Region is too fat and slow to keep up with average kids on the basketball court in Fike. No chance he can pull or get on a linebacker, especially at Morris pace

TigerNE writes:

in response to 13tiger5:

Region is too fat and slow to keep up with average kids on the basketball court in Fike. No chance he can pull or get on a linebacker, especially at Morris pace

Are you telling us you've watched him on the court at Fike recently??

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features